Immigration rule change may affect hundreds in state

  • By Donna Gordon Blankinship Associated Press
  • Thursday, January 3, 2013 4:41pm
  • Local NewsNorthwest

SEATTLE — Several hundred Washington families are expected to benefit from a U.S. immigration rule change announced this week that makes it easier to keep American citizens together with their illegal immigrant spouses and children.

The legal director for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project said Thursday that it’s too early to say how much time and effort the new rule will save families.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how it comes about in practice,” said Matt Adams.

Before the rule change, which goes into effect March 4, many illegal immigrants had to leave the country before they could ask the federal government to waive a three- to 10-year ban from returning to their American families.

Under the new rule, a U.S. citizen can petition for a waiver while the noncitizens remain in this country waiting for a decision. They will still have to prove that a separation will cause extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen spouse or parent.

Illegal immigrants will still have to return to their home country to finish the process, but the new rule is expected to save them months of waiting time and shorten the separation from their loved ones.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services office was unable to estimate how many people from Washington state would be affected by the change. Adams estimated it would be several hundred, based on the fact that several hundred people seek legal help each year in this state concerning the situation affected by the rule change.

U.S. officials estimated the rule change would affect more than 24,000 people across the nation but could not break the number down state-by-state.

In a news conference about the rule change Wednesday, Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services, said the time abroad for the consular interviews will be reduced from months to weeks.

Adams said the change isn’t everything immigrant rights advocates want, but it’s a move in the right direction.

“I don’t think it’s a final solution. We need Congress to act,” he said.

The waiver shift is the most recent result of President Barack Obama’s changing immigration policy without congressional action. Congressional Republicans have criticized the president’s efforts as granting “backdoor amnesty” to illegal immigrants.

Adams said immigrant activists are not sure why the rule change only affects families of American citizens, when a larger group of legal permanent residents also are affected by similar rules that cause families to be separated.

“It could be that they want to roll it out on a smaller scale,” he said, adding, “I’m not optimistic that they will later revisit this, at least not in the near future.”

————

Online:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services: www.uscis.gov

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project: www.nwirp.org

More in Local News

Mayor tries new tactic to curb fire department overtime

Stephanson says an engine won’t go into service when the only available staff would be on overtime.

Jamie Copeland is a senior at Cedar Park Christian Schools’ Mountlake Terrace campus. She is a basketball player, ASB president, cheerleader and, of course, a Lion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Cedar Park Christian senior stepping up to new challenges

Jamie Copeland’s academics include STEM studies, leadership, ASB activities, honor society.

Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Paine Field fire chief will be allowed to retire

In his letter, the airport director noted Jeff Bohnet was leaving while under investigation.

Stanwood man, 33, killed in crash near Marysville

Speed may have been a factor, the sheriff’s department said.

County plans to sue to recoup costs from ballot drop-box law

A quarter-million dollars could be spent adding 19 ballot boxes in rural areas.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

Lynnwood man allegedly cuts Marysville’s 911 dispatch wires

The man reportedly told police he intended to trade the wires for drugs.

Ian Terry / The Herald Westbound cars merge from Highway 204 and 20th Street Southeast onto the trestle during the morning commute on Thursday, March 30 in Lake Stevens. Photo taken on 03302017
Pay a toll on US 2 trestle? 10,000 say no on social media

A GOP lawmaker’s chart shows theoretical toll rates of up to $6.30 to cross the trestle one way.

Most Read